The relative roles of dispersal and establishment for shaping aquatic macrophyte diversity and community structure among the inland lakes of Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, USA.
Angela DePalma-Dow, MS
Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48823
Contact: Adepalmadow@gmail.com 530-304-1809
Adviser: Dr. Kendra S. Cheruvelil
Funding: Institute of Water Resources (IWR) at Michigan State University, MSU College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Alumni Association, MSU Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, MSU Evolution, Ecology, Behavior, and Biology Program.
For my masters research I studied the aquatic plant (herein referred to as macrophytes) diversity of the inland lakes on Isle Royale National Park. While a large body of research exists for macrophyte studies in urban or heavy-use and recreation lakes, there is limited research being conducted in relatively pristine and undisturbed lakes such as those found on Isle Royale. Isle Royale is unique in that the inland lakes are, for the most part, unaltered by man in their hydrology, surrounding land use, and their connected input/outputs meaning that the biological communities in these lakes provide a wonderful opportunity to study natural conditions. These undisturbed lakes are essential to the development of our knowledge for how lakes function because the data we collect from lakes such as these build the baseline that will be used to effectively gage changes over time.
Aquatic plants are important to lake communities.
In general, macrophytes are very important for lake ecosystem form and function. Macrophytes consume C02 and produce oxygen, they recycle nutrients, stabilize sediments and shorelines, and provide valuable food and shelter for lake-dwelling organisms like fish, insects and even beavers! Not every lake is the same in the type and amount of macrophyte species that make up the community. For my research, I wanted to explore why some aquatic plant species are present, absent, found in abundance or rarity in some lakes and not in others. Answers to this question can help park managers and ecologists monitor changes in lake communities, such as during the introduction of an invasive species or dramatic climate shifts.